Articles – From the horse’s mouth
You may have your favourite hi-fi equipment no matter how old it is but you would like to replace that half-dead CD player, upgrade to a better CD player or simply add CD playback to the existing music system. But you would also like to gain access to audio content held on your home network and tune in to the “new short-wave” that is Internet radio through that hi-fi setup. Adding a CD player and a network media adaptor may result in two extra boxes and your may find that you don’t have enough line-level inputs on the amplifier for the exercise and this may require you to purchase a switch box.
Yamaha have released the CD-N500 which is a “full-width” component CD player that doubles as a network media receiver. This unit plugs in to any vacant digital input or analogue line-level input on an existing sound system to provide it with both the CD playback and network-audio-access functions.
It can connect to a home network only via an Ethernet connection, which would work properly with a house that is wired for Ethernet or with a HomePlug AV segment once you use the appropriate “homeplug” adaptor. These connections then allow for reliable media-streaming operation and is what I would prefer for equipment that is normally in a permanent location and plugged in to AC power.
As well, you can connect iOS devices, USB memory keys or MP3 players that present themselves as Mass-Storage Devices to the USB socket on the front panel. Here, whenever you play audio content from the iOS devices like the iPod Classic that is stuffed to the gunnels with music, the sound is passed along digitally and you can use the CD-N500’s remote control as the control surface for the iOS device.
The Yamaha CD player has access to DLNA-compliant network media servers and can be controlled from computers and other devices using AirPlay and DLNA compliant setups. But Yamaha also has a media-controller app for this CD player which allows your smartphone or tablet to be the player’s control surface while exploiting the portable device’s larger display. Of course you can control this player using controls on its front panel or supplied remote control but would have to contend with a single-line display.
It can work with the FLAC high-quality audio files as well as the regular CD-quality MP3 / WMA / AAC files. As for Internet radio, this is facilitated with the vTuner Internet-radio directory which most Internet radios and similar equipment use. Even the digital-analogue conversion circuitry and analogue signal path is optimised for best quality sound while you can connect this player to an external digital-analogue converter or a digital amplifier if these devices offer better sound quality.
At the moment, this unit doesn’t yet support Spotify, Pandora, Last.fm or other popular online music services but Yamaha could add this functionality through subsequent firmware updates.
But what I like more about this player is that, like the CD/MiniDisc decks released by Sony, Sharp, JVC and Marantz through MiniDisc’s heyday, this unit is a one-box setup that can complement existing hi-fi setups rather than unnecessarily replacing components in these setups. It underscores the fact that there are ways of heading to the online era without leaving the past behind.